I started rating films because I wanted to remember, in a quantifiable manner, how I felt about them. Considering the amount seen every year, it helps to have a cheat sheet, especially for those middling ones. But the system is not and has never been a perfect science. They’re just shortcuts for me and for the reader—and shortcuts are often a risky way to get to destinations.
In ways, each rating is often a combination of two primary questions: “How good is it on a technical and fundamental basis?” and “Am I emotionally connecting on some level?” Of course, the question that ultimately ends up being the most important is often, “Will I remember this years and years from now?”
Nonetheless, here’s a brief guide to ratings:
As close to perfect as possible. Everything clicks. Constantly memorable.
A great film that I find myself feeling deeply passionate about. Something that sticks with me years after viewing, and probably pretty original to boot.
A very, very good film, possibly great, but misses out on being an all-time favorite. More often than not, this would be highly recommended without reservations.
A good film with some nagging flaws that kept it from being great. Occasionally, some very good films will end up here due to their lack of scope.
The film works. I enjoyed it, but maybe it lacked the depth necessary to stand out. Or sometimes, it’s used as a “disappointment” rating when I find myself let down by the promise of a possible classic.
Generally considered the lowest level at which I will actually recommend a film, but even that’s rare. Uusally it’s a movie with a few qualities that stand above what is otherwise a mediocre production.
This is my basic “I don’t really get it” or “I finished it but would never think about watching it again” rating.
A film that I probably disliked or is simply not good, but may have a quality or two worthy of note.
Essentially means the film lacks any redeemable value, social or otherwise, to even exist.
I always try to keep in mind is that there’s a lot of hard work that goes into the process of filmmaking by those involved. Many films are based on their love and dedication and that should be respected, whether the film is a generic blockbuster or a high-brow classic.